Enter Petnet SmartFeeder, the automatic pet feeder for both cats and dogs that's packed with an assortment of awesome and pet and owner-friendly features.
First off, the SmartFeeder is a snap to assemble and set up, coming with clear and easy-to-follow instructions. I had the feeder unboxed, assembled, the app set up, and the device hooked up to my Wi-Fi network in less than ten minutes. Note that you do need to locate the SmartFeeder close to a power outlet (it comes with an 8-foot cord), and the area also needs decent Wi-Fi connection.
Once set up, it was time to dump the dry pet food into the feeder. It has a monster 7-pound capacity, and the small bag half-pound bag I put in it to test the unit was swallowed by the hopper. The food is secured with a lid that clips into place so pets can't help themselves to food.
The SmartFeeder is capable of dispensing food in servings from 1/16th of a cup to 1-1/2 cups, which means that it can satisfy large and small appetites, and you can use the app to schedule meals and portion sizes.
Food is dispensed into an easy-to-clean stainless steel bowl.
There's also a handy food level sensor that lets you know before it runs empty, and notifications in the event of the dispenser jamming.
There's also battery backup in case of power failure, so your pet doesn't miss a feed.
The app also lets you customize feeds based on the type of food you use (the app has an extensive database of different brands and types). The app notifies you of feedings (and or any issues such as hopper jams), and can also be used to dispense manual feedings.
I've had the SmartFeeder in operation for several weeks now and it's been highly reliable. The only problem I encountered was a jam that happened when I set the feeder to dispense lots of portions over a short period of time when I was testing the app. Other that that self-inflicted problem -- which was easily cleared -- the device has worked splendidly, telling me when feeds have been dispensed and when the hopper needed refilling.
You can also configure a Nest cam to take photos of your pet while they are eating, you know, to thrill your Facebook friends.
Now, my test subject has been Mr. Kitty, and Mr. Kitty isn't all that happy with dried food, despite the fact that it's better for his digestion and health. I'm also not sure if he's all that happy about the feeder dispensing the right amount of food per meal, as opposed to the amount he would like. But his waistline would suggest it's good for him.
The first time I set it up and is dispensed food, Mr. Kitty almost jumped out of his skin and stared at the feeder for a minute before wolfing the food down and running off. Now he's a lot happier with the feeder, enjoying more regular feedings even when none of his human slaves are home. It's also nice to be able to dispense a small portion as a treat.